Translation as crisis (mis)communication for culturally and linguistically diverse communities: the case of Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Australia claims to be “the most successful immigration nation” in the world. With language services being a daily necessity, the country has a well-established translator accreditation system. To prepare for crises, Australia has also published multiple official documents with clearly laid-out management plans. All these factors seem to have contributed to Australia’s successful fight against the first two COVID-19 waves in 2020 and 2021. However, the country’s crisis communication has actually experienced constant failures to reach its culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities. Taking the Australian state of Victoria as a case study, this article examines the inadequacy of COVID-19 related translation services and analyses its impact on CALD communities. Based on analysis through the lens of the 4-A principle (namely, availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability), the article argues that crisis translation is a specialised area, and any effective crisis communication in multicultural contexts needs to consider language experts as an essential part of the crisis response team.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-123
Number of pages27
JournalTranslation Spaces
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2023


  • Crisis translation
  • COVID-19
  • CALD communities
  • availability
  • accessibility
  • acceptability
  • adaptability

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